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Big milestone: Sudbury Dragon Boat Festival celebrates 20 years July 13

Funds raised this year will help NEO Kids Foundation build permanent child and youth centre
Paddlers are seen here taking part in the 2018 edition of the Sudbury Dragon Boat Festival. (File)

The Sudbury Dragon Boat Festival, which runs Saturday, July 13 in Bell Park, celebrates a big milestone this year.

The festival first ran in 2000, meaning 2019 marks the 20th annual dragon boat festival here in Greater Sudbury.

“I think we're doing something right,” said Chris Gavard, the festival's co-chair, adding the event helps charities and encourages people to have some active fun out on the water.

Thirty-seven teams of 22 paddlers registered this year — that adds up to more than 800 people. 

The 2019 dragon boat festival will likely bring in up to $50,000, Gavard said. The funds will help the NEO Kids Foundation achieve its goal of building a permanent child and youth centre in Sudbury.

Over the years, the festival has brought in $1.7 million for nine different charitable causes.

Past organizations supported by the festival, which exclusively donates to local capital campaigns, include Maison McCulloch Hospice, the Sam Bruno PET Scan Fund, Northern Water Sports Centre, Meals on Wheels, Independent Living Resource Centre, Sudbury Food Bank, Alzheimer Society and the MS Society.

“If I just look back at all the different things we've done, I think we've had a major impact in the community,” Gavard said.

This year, the festival will be centred around the Grace Hartman Amphitheatre in Bell Park, and will feature more vendors and children's activities than in past years, he said.

There will also be live musical entertainment by local bands, a beer tent and activities such as lessons in tai chi and Chinese brush calligraphy.

Admission is free for spectators.

The day starts at 9 a.m., with races running until 4 p.m., and the awards ceremony starting at 4:30 p.m.

“I want to thank the city of Sudbury for backing our event because they've been fantastic the last 20 years,” said Gavard.

“The fact that they still look at it as an event to come to speaks volumes. We who sit on the committee are amazed every year that we're planning the following year. I'm just appreciative of what Sudbury's done for the charities in the community.”

Learn more about what's going on at the Sudbury Dragon Boat Festival 2019 on the event's website.


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